Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Naples in Italy, is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples. The city is known for its rich history, art, culture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,800 years old. Naples is located halfway between two volcanic areas, the volcano Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, sitting on the coast by the Gulf of Naples.
Founded by the Ancient Greeks as "Νεάπολις", Neápolis , it held an important role in Magna Graecia and then as part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire. The city has seen a multitude of civilizations come and go, each leaving their mark and now the historic city centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Naples was the capital city of a kingdom which bore its name from 1282 until 1816 in the form of the Kingdom of Naples, then in union with Sicily it was the capital of the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification.
The city proper has a population of around 1 million people, while the population of urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 2.25 million. The Naples metropolitan area, according to different sources, is the second after the Milan metropolitan area or the third most populated metropolitan area in Italy.
The city is synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city. A strong part of Neapolitan culture which has had wide reaching effects is music, including the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin as well as strong contributions to opera and folk standards. There are popular characters and figures who have come to symbolise Naples; these include the patron saint of the city Januarius, Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the epic Greek poem the Odyssey.

After a period as a Norman kingdom, the Kingdom of Sicily was passed on to the Hohenstaufens who were a highly powerful Germanic royal house of Swabian origins. The University of Naples Federico II was founded by Frederick II in the city, the oldest state university in the world, making Naples the intellectual centre of the kingdom. Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy, led in 1266 to Pope Innocent IV crowning Angevin Dynasty duke Charles I as the king of the kingdom: Charles officially moved the capital from Palermo to Naples where he resided at the Castel Nuovo. During this period much Gothic architecture sprang up around Naples, including the Naples Cathedral, which is the main church of the city.
In 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers, the kingdom split in half. The Angevin Kingdom of Naples included the southern part of the Italian peninsula, while the island of Sicily became the Aragonese Kingdom of Sicily. The wars continued until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Frederick III recognised as king of the Isle of Sicily, while Charles II was recognised as the king of Naples by Pope Boniface VIII. Despite the split, Naples grew in importance, attracting Pisan and Genoese merchants, Tuscan bankers, and with them some of the most championed Renaissance artists of the time, such as Boccaccio, Petrarch and Giotto. In the midst of the 14. century, The Hungarian Angevin king , Louis the Great captured the city several times. Alfonso I conquered Naples after his victory against the last Angevin king, René, Naples was unified for a brief period with Sicily again.

Sicily and Naples were separated in 1458 but remained as dependencies of Aragon under Ferrante. The new dynasty enhanced Naples' commerce by establishing relations with the Iberian peninsula. Naples also became a centre of the Renaissance, with artists such as Laurana, da Messina, Sannazzaro and Poliziano arriving in the city. During 1501 Naples became under direct rule from France at the time of Louis XII, as Neapolitan king Frederick was taken as a prisoner to France; this lasted only four years. Spain won Naples at the Battle of Garigliano and, as a result, Naples became under direct rule as part of the Spanish Empire throughout the entire Habsburg Spain period. The Spanish sent viceroys to Naples to directly deal with local issues: the most important of which was Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, who was responsible for considerable social, economic and urban progress in the city; he also supported the Inquisition.

During this period Naples became Europe's second largest city after only Paris. It was a cultural powerhouse during the Baroque era as home to artists including Caravaggio, Rosa and Bernini, philosophers such as Telesio, Bruno, Campanella and Vico, and writers such as Battista Marino. A revolution led by local fisherman Masaniello saw the creation of a brief independent Neapolitan Republic, though this last only a few months before Spanish rule was regained. In 1656 the plague killed about half of Naples' 300,000 inhabitants. Finally, by 1714, the Spanish ceased to rule Naples as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession; it was the Austrian Charles VI who ruled from Vienna, similarly with viceroys.[30] However, the War of the Polish Succession saw the Spanish regain Sicily and Naples as part of a personal union, which in the Treaty of Vienna were recognised as independent under a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons in 1738 under Charles VII.
During the time of Ferdinand IV, the French Revolution made its way to Naples: Horatio Nelson, an ally of the Bourbons, even arrived in the city in 1798 to warn against it. However, Ferdinand was forced to retreat and fled to Palermo, where he was protected by a British fleet. Naples' lower classes the lazzaroni were strongly pious and Royalist, favouring the Bourbons; in the mêlée that followed, they fought the Neapolitan pro-Republican aristocracy, causing a civil war. The Republicans conquered Castel Sant'Elmo and proclaimed a Parthenopaean Republic, secured by the French Army. A counter-revolutionary religious army of lazzaroni known as the sanfedisti under Fabrizio Ruffo was raised; they had great success and the French surrendered the Neapolitan castles and were allowed to sail back to Toulon.
Ferdinand IV was restored as king; however, after only seven years Napoleon conquered the kingdom and instated Bonapartist kings including his brother Joseph Bonaparte. With the help of the Austrian Empire and allies, the Bonapartists were defeated in the Neapolitan War and Bourbon Ferdinand IV once again regained the throne and the kingdom. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 saw the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily combined to form the Two Sicilies, with Naples as the capital city. Naples became the first city on the Italian peninsula to have a railway in 1839 with the construction of the Naples–Portici line, there were many factories throughout the kingdom making it a highly important trade centre.

After the Expedition of the Thousand led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, culminating in the controversial Siege of Gaeta, Naples became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 as part of the Italian unification, ending Bourbon rule. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been wealthy and 80 million ducats were taken from the banks as a contribution to the new Italian treasury, while other former states in the Italian unification were forced to pay far less. The economy of the area formerly known as Two Sicilies collapsed, leading to an unprecedented wave of emigration, with estimates claiming at least 4 million of those who left from 1876–1913 were from Naples or near Naples.

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